Justifiable Anxiety

Postby Candid » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:57 am

I've dithered a while over where this belongs: depression? anxiety & panic attacks? anger management? addictions? self-esteem & confidence?

All of the above, I'm afraid.

A couple of months ago I self-diagnosed with alternating anxiety and depression, neither of which is pleasant.

My antidepressants were running low so I saw my GP. He referred me for psychiatric evaluation and I knew -- even before I saw his referral letter -- he suspected bipolar.

He told me if I did have bipolar, the medication I was on would make it worse. Despite this, at the end of my consultation he prescribed another six months' worth.

I still have the prescription and I haven't collected any. I had three sleepness nights following the abrupt halt and then it was business as usual: feeling rotten. No better or worse, just rotten.

The psychiatric evaluation showed I was having a pretty normal reaction to a devastating change of lifestyle.

I was 52 and in a debilitating marriage when I lost my job two years ago. It came as a shock because I'd been a professional for 30 years, and had always been the main breadwinner. Husband was once again out of work.

At that time I still had a bit of pep about me. I set about creating my own business doing what I knew. Trouble was, the freelance market had vanished. I got a few nibbles but not a penny came in.

Concurrently I was applying for work in the town where I live. It's not my home town, nor even my home country, but it has a climate that suits me.

As time went by and nothing shifted, I reluctantly registered for unemployment benefit and started widening my search to include the possibility of moving to one of the major centres, even though I knew I didn't want that kind of upheaval.

All the problems of my marriage began to overwhelm me, because we were both at home all the time, both worried about money, both looking for work. I'd been carrying the can for a long time -- my husband has aspergers -- and I got worn down. Meanwhile, the home mortgage wasn't being paid and what we owed was climbing.

In April we decided to separate.
In May we found a buyer for our home.
In June we divided what was left once the mortgage had been paid, and he left the country. All our furniture was sold for far less than it was worth.
From June to September I towed a suitcase from one spare room to another. I lost a couple of long-term friends.

Finally in September (last month) I faced the fact that I wasn't going to find work anytime soon and dipped into my share of the house-sale money to move into a one-bedroom flat. I retrieved boxes of my personal belongings that had been stored with friends.

I'm sleeping on a thin mattress on the floor and I sit on a hard wooden garden lounger with a folded quilt on top. I'm developing aches and pains. I'm getting drunk on cask wine every evening. I'm smoking a pack a day and have developed a smoker's cough. When I think of knocking it off and getting fit again, I wonder what for? I've done the maths and I can afford my present lifestyle for about two years.

In the meantime a friend recently showed me a picture of myself taken less than a year ago and said: "You need to put some weight back on."

I'm grieving for our house and especially my garden. It was the one bright spot from the time I lost my job to the time the house was sold. I was in it from sun-up until it was too dark to see. In my neurosis I did everything but vacuum the lawn and polish individual leaves. It was exquisite, and I can't bear to look at the photos now because the new owner has neither mowed nor watered since he took possession.

When I realised how far I'd fallen I took up voluntary work. I now have three unpaid jobs and yes, the time I devote to them detracts from looking for paid work. When I was interviewed for the latest, the interviewer suggested I might like to do a training course that would enable me to take up another, longer-term voluntary position with her organisation. This training course was quite expensive but they would make a contribution because I'm already working for them. For nothing.

On the way home from this interview (last week) I was overwhelmed with rage. I've lost my job, my home and my marriage... and now I'm being asked to pay for the privilege of working.

I did an internet search on "unemployed over 50" and the findings were not encouraging. Over and over again I found acknowledgment that correction of the global financial crisis will come too late for the over-50s who have 'retired' long before we expected to. The case studies all had working partners and paid-for homes and they were still depressed!

This is how it looks to me: go on giving my services for nothing all over town -- and when the money is running low, pay for the most basic of funerals and do the research on foolproof suicide. It goes against all kinds of ethical standards for me, but what else is there?
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#1

Postby Candid » Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:03 pm

I've spent the intervening three hours looking round this forum and at all the heartfelt stories that never get a reply.

Ah well...
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#2

Postby jsbabybear » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:58 pm

Hi Candid, just read your post and I understand you are going through a very rough time, physically and emotionally. Just so you know, people do read your posts so don't think you're alone. Everyone is here I think cos they are suffering or have suffered. I don't know what else to say except keep going and it's totally ok to grieve for what you've lost. Hugs, JS
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#3

Postby Candid » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:03 pm

Thanks for the hugs, JS. I wasn't expecting a 'solution', having been over and over it in my head a million times. It's nice to know people care (and I've become very isolated in the past few months) so your short and sweet post fitted the bill.

I see a counsellor every week and she has suggested I just need to accept that my career is over, I will never have my own home and garden again and will at some point have to throw myself on the mercy of relatives for a roof over my head.

I'm struggling with that. I've always been so independent, the one who takes care of others (like my husband!), and I'm horrified at the idea of going begging when I still have all my skills and at this stage am physically okay. It's those thoughts that have me self-destructing.

On the other hand, struggling to get back some semblance of a life is wearing me out, too.

Thanks again for being there.
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#4

Postby Sparrowhawk1161 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:03 am

OK..unanswered posts.

Those posts are waiting for me. Problem is... I need two of myself... or maybe three to get to them. Once I find one... they deserve a post... so I will get to them...with the knowledge I might have aquired.

First, everything you said... can make you feel the way you do. You have had a hard life. If you ever think you shouldn't feel the way you do... you every right. I can imagine what you are going through.

The best thing I can say is that you the stuff happening = the way you feel.

From what I found in the post... It is OK to feel the depression, anger, anxiety...and low self-esteme.

Do I have the answers right now? It would be really cool to go from pont a to point b. Point a is what you feel and point b is the answers. It doesn't work that way. (I wish it did.)

The point right now, is that those feelings you have sound like something that is...what you should be feeling.

The next step is seeing what can be done about it. everything is is in steps, though. All posts on these threads come back to me in my e-mail box. Sometimes it takes me a while to get back. But I will :D
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#5

Postby jsbabybear » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:13 pm

Hey Leah, I'm really interested to know why your doctor put you onto something that could make your bi-polar worse. Aside from all else that is going on in your life to make you feel bad, being on the wrong drugs is going to make things so much worse. Can you see another Dr?
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#6

Postby Candid » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:46 pm

Hi again, jsbabybear.

I first saw this doctor about six months after I lost my job. I was feeling unsupported, crying all the time and having trouble sleeping so I wanted something to get me through a rough patch, ie until I found work again. He prescribed Lexapro (escitalopram).

The Lexapro seemed to work immediately. I mean that literally; I'm very susceptible to chemicals as well as highly suggestible. From memory I felt better a couple of hours after I took the first one, and as you know these things usually take a couple of weeks to kick in. So I was grateful for the Lexapro and I liked this doctor.

Unfortunately things just kept getting worse around me. A year later I knew if we didn't sell our house the bank would do it for us and we wouldn't get any money from it. We could even end up with a bill if we let it come to that. I can't overemphasise how much it meant to me to have a home I believed would be mine for life. There was nothing grand about it but I had got obsessed with the garden as a way of dealing with other circumstances. It was my little piece of paradise.

My husband then went back to his parents (left the country). My personal stuff was stored in boxes under the friends' house and I moved in with them. After three weeks they said I had to leave and threw in some hurtful judgments of my "personality and behaviour". I have known this couple about 25 years.

I subsequently received an email from the man blaming his partner for everything, saying she was jealous of me and he didn't agree with a word of what she'd said, and asking to meet me somewhere without her knowing. In other words, she saw me as a threat to their relationship and it looks like she had good reason to be suspicious. (As an aside, my husband had often remarked that the man fancied me and was trying to break us up.) So I got caught in someone else's drama at a time when I was so low I couldn't even see it.

That man can consider himself lucky I didn't reply to his email and BCC the whole thing to his partner. I was certainly angry enough to do that but it wouldn't have improved anything for me and I like to think that despite my troubles, I'm still a good person. Apart from when I went back for my stored boxes I haven't seen them since.

From their place I went to stay with a woman friend I've known even longer. That was a brief, relatively happy interlude, but she lives in a small unit and barely has room for herself and her belongings. I was sleeping in her study and she would ask my permission each day to check her emails, so -- as kind and generous as she was -- I knew I had to make other arrangements as soon as I could.

While I was there I ran out of Lexapro and went back to my GP for another six-month prescription; he referred me for psychiatric assessment saying he suspected bipolar. Because he said Lexapro would be making bipolar worse, I didn't fill the prescription. I'd been taking it every day for more than a year and by that stage I was unaware of it making any difference. I felt sad and angry anyway, but I figured I had plenty to feel sad and angry about.

I was shocked that going off it left me lying awake for three nights. Funnily enough I could still do what I needed to do during the day (voluntary work, looking for jobs etc). I think I have become accustomed to functioning with very little sleep.

Once I got through those three nights I felt glad that I'd stopped taking something that's clearly addictive. As I said, it doesn't seem to have made any difference over all. I'm not interested in trying another drug that may or may not make my situation seem okay. I have to reach that conclusion myself, and right now I say it's unacceptable. For one thing, it isn't sustainable. I spend far more than I receive in unemployment benefit. I could, I suppose, eliminate all the 'treats' from my life, ie stop meeting friends in restaurants etc.; that would mean I could afford to be thoroughly miserable for longer, but I still wouldn't be able to cover basic costs.

I've considered seeing another doctor in this town who's well-known for handing out Valium to anyone who asks. My husband used to go to him and we both took Vs when we felt the need. I never took them on two consecutive nights; I'm well aware they're highly addictive. However, they did guarantee me a lovely, dreamy way of falling asleep and a slightly better next day. I would take them when I was feeling worked-up and had something important to do the next day, such as a job interview.

The day we separated we tipped the pills out on the table and divided them equally into two piles. I look the last of mine while I was still staying with the couple who threw me out.

Oh, by the way, the psychiatrist I was referred to made his diagnosis over the phone. Guess he's busy. I told him what had been going on for me this year and he agreed with me there was no pathology in my response to grief and loss. He said he would be writing to my GP to say he found no sign of bipolar.

So I've been going on with the self-medication. The fags are what concern me most because they're expensive and my chest feels very tight. That being said, I still get all over town on a pushbike and the general consensus among my friends is that I can outwalk, outrun and outcycle any of em.

I was getting through a cask of wine in four or five days but it ran out the day before yesterday and so far I haven't replaced it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my posts.
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#7

Postby WTNP » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:09 am

This will seem simplistic but your external environment does not really determine how you feel. It is your internal environment, it goes like this:

Event>Interpretation based on beliefs>Emotional Reaction

Let me give a couple examples:

Lets say I strap explosives to you an tell you to go into a daycare. Your reaction would be pure horror right? Well, let's say I do the exact same thing but you believe that the daycare is on sacred land where your people's children (they live in terrible conditions) should be and these children are those of the people who took this land from you. Now lets also suppose that you believe that you will be sent to heaven for this act and your family will be taken care of here financially. How do you suppose you would feel about it then?

Let take another example, lets say you are mandated to be given a immunization in a massive plague outbreak. There are limited supplies and you have been chosen randomly to be immunized. You would be very happy right? Well, let's say you believed that the government was actually the one infecting people, how do you suppose that you would react?

Your perspective of your situation determines how you feel about it. If you can change your perspective then you can change how you feel.
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#8

Postby Sparrowhawk1161 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:05 am

WTNP wrote:This will seem simplistic but your external environment does not really determine how you feel. It is your internal environment, it goes like this:

Event>Interpretation based on beliefs>Emotional Reaction

Let me give a couple examples:

Lets say I strap explosives to you an tell you to go into a daycare. Your reaction would be pure horror right? Well, let's say I do the exact same thing but you believe that the daycare is on sacred land where your people's children (they live in terrible conditions) should be and these children are those of the people who took this land from you. Now lets also suppose that you believe that you will be sent to heaven for this act and your family will be taken care of here financially. How do you suppose you would feel about it then?

Let take another example, lets say you are mandated to be given a immunization in a massive plague outbreak. There are limited supplies and you have been chosen randomly to be immunized. You would be very happy right? Well, let's say you believed that the government was actually the one infecting people, how do you suppose that you would react?

Your perspective of your situation determines how you feel about it. If you can change your perspective then you can change how you feel.


If it's event/ interpretation/Emotional reaction. Without the event, there would be no interpretation and no reaction. You are still dependent on the event to create the interpretation. Enviromental cues happen. We evaluate them. Then we have a reaction.
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#9

Postby Candid » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:20 am

I find those examples bizarre... and highly suggestive of paranoia.

Quite eager to read a different interpretation of losing job, home, partner and friends, though. When someone shows me my beliefs about these things are erroneous, I'll get in some champagne.

ETA Thanks for the return to sanity, Sparrowhawk.
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#10

Postby Sparrowhawk1161 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:57 am

Candid wrote:I find those examples bizarre... and highly suggestive of paranoia.

Quite eager to read a different interpretation of losing job, home, partner and friends, though. When someone shows me my beliefs about these things are erroneous, I'll get in some champagne.

ETA Thanks for the return to sanity, Sparrowhawk.


Anxiety is a normal mechanism we have. It helps us deal with danger. Like if someone was following you and you knew it... the body creates the adrenaline for fligh or fight response. Perfectly good options. Remove yourself from a dangerous situation or fight your way through survival...

Sometimes our minds, in our complicated society tells us other things. Why do feel anxious when taking a test? It's just a test and it can be retaken. But, it's the thoughts we carry that tell us an emotional response. Things like... if I don't pass the test... I will get low grades... if I get low grades the my GPA will go down... it could effect me graduating. If I don't get the degree, I can't get the job I want...if I don't get that job... I have to settle for something I don't want... if I don't get the job I want... I will be misarable and I have an unhappy life.

Thus, worry. Sometimes we worry and can't stop it... and don't even know we do it. The mind goes from... bad grade directly to miserable. It's like going from point A to point E without stopping to realize you missed all the other letters. Thus, you get anxious before a test.

The trick is to identify that whole thought pattern and come up with alternative thoughts.

If I get a bad grade = I can retake the test.
retake the test = better grade
better grade = good GPA
Goos GPA = graduating
Graduating = getting the job you want
Getting the job = being happy.

Justifiable anxiety is something that shows an immediate threat.

Unjustifiable anxiety is created by a thought process that dwells on everything happening negative. The trick is to identify the negative thoughts and create positive ones to replace it.

That's basically what I was trying to say... Why do some people never get anxious for test? They just shrug it off their shoulders by realising that the thoughts can be justified by better ones. The problem with us anxiety sufferers is that our anxiety mechanism is so well owrn... like highway we take. Yet, the positive thoughts are like a mountain pass...much harder to obtain. It takes practice to create another tollroad and chose the thoughts that come to mind. :D
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#11

Postby WTNP » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:33 pm

Sparrowhawk1161 wrote:
WTNP wrote:This will seem simplistic but your external environment does not really determine how you feel. It is your internal environment, it goes like this:

Event>Interpretation based on beliefs>Emotional Reaction

Let me give a couple examples:

Lets say I strap explosives to you an tell you to go into a daycare. Your reaction would be pure horror right? Well, let's say I do the exact same thing but you believe that the daycare is on sacred land where your people's children (they live in terrible conditions) should be and these children are those of the people who took this land from you. Now lets also suppose that you believe that you will be sent to heaven for this act and your family will be taken care of here financially. How do you suppose you would feel about it then?

Let take another example, lets say you are mandated to be given a immunization in a massive plague outbreak. There are limited supplies and you have been chosen randomly to be immunized. You would be very happy right? Well, let's say you believed that the government was actually the one infecting people, how do you suppose that you would react?

Your perspective of your situation determines how you feel about it. If you can change your perspective then you can change how you feel.


If it's event/ interpretation/Emotional reaction. Without the event, there would be no interpretation and no reaction. You are still dependent on the event to create the interpretation. Enviromental cues happen. We evaluate them. Then we have a reaction.


Reaction to an event is a result of interpretation. Period. That is why different people can have vastly different reactions to the same event.
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#12

Postby WTNP » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:34 pm

Candid wrote:I find those examples bizarre... and highly suggestive of paranoia.

Quite eager to read a different interpretation of losing job, home, partner and friends, though. When someone shows me my beliefs about these things are erroneous, I'll get in some champagne.

ETA Thanks for the return to sanity, Sparrowhawk.


I forgive you for your insult and dismissive attitude.

You are welcome to continue to view your anxiety as completely justified.

I wish you well.
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#13

Postby Candid » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:03 pm

I've never been one to get anxious about tests. Matter of fact I faced one this week: I had to take an online test to see whether I was suitable for employment by a major telecomms company.

I couldn't follow the instructions, so I guess I wasn't. :lol:

I can be relaxed and keep a sense of humour about most things, and maybe that's why I've been sent a particularly tough one (for those who believe these things are 'sent' to try us).

I've always been one to shrug things off, which maybe explains why few people realise how distressed I am. Truth is, when I'm with friends I can enjoy the moment. It's when I'm on my own that I start worrying.

If my share of the house money had been enough to keep me afloat for 10 years, or even five, I could handle it. An amount like that could be invested to produce a small income that would top up my unemployment benefit.

As it is, the lack of crystal ball has created some costly blunders.

When the house went I believed I could stay with the couple mentioned above (cheaply, not free; I was paying board) until I found work. That way I could have kept my capital until I had a job and could buy another small home.

I didn't know they would throw me out and that I would have to rent on the open market two months later. Consequently I got rid of all the furniture (much of it given away; none of it fetching what it was worth to me) and have had to buy again. This is why I'm sleeping on the floor and haven't got a comfortable chair. I only just bought a washing machine last week, because hand-washing wasn't getting my clothes properly clean and the last thing I need now is to be walking around giving olfactory offence.

My savings will not last long. The way I see it I have two alternatives. The first is to go on as I am, allowing myself the occasional treats that make life worth living, and hope I find an income before I can no longer pay rent. The second is to accept that this is how it's going to be, and adjust my spending accordingly.

That kind of acceptance strikes me as unacceptable, chiefly because no matter how I pare my spending (eg. a bowl of rice every second day), paying rent ensures more going out than coming in every week. So for now I've written off 'accepting' dire poverty. I believe taking better care of myself is the only chance I have of re-entering my community.

Perhaps my predicament is unsuitable for this kind of forum, where people are considering psychological distress. Yes, I am in psychological distress, but our friend's suggestion to consider it from another angle was not helpful. I'm disappointed s/he didn't come up with another way of thinking about it, but I can't say I'm surprised.

I have already gone through "It'll all work out. I'll find a great job soon. Best thing to do is enjoy having all this lovely free time. You never know what's around the corner" etc. I stayed with that for a year and a half while my life disintegrated around me. It was a happier head space than the present one and I still revert to it in company, but my survival instinct insists I do better. It wants a Plan.

And that, my friends, takes me back to my thread-starter: go on giving my services for nothing all over town -- and when the money is running low, pay for the most basic of funerals and do the research on foolproof suicide. It goes against all kinds of ethical standards for me, but what else is there?
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#14

Postby WTNP » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:34 am

Your plan will be a result of what is in your mind, as your life will be as well. If it makes you feel any better my situation is similar in many ways. I understand how hard it is to accept this advice because I am still accepting it myself.

I can't tell you how to look at your situation, I simply don't know enough about it and I am not you. You are the only one who knows this or can fathom it.

On the surface of my situation, I have been the subject of terrible things and reprehensible behavior that no one could reasonably attribute to me. I am a victim.

But, this is not really true, the more I work on myself I see how my subconscious mind directs my life. It is the intuitive nature of humans, our conscious mind makes choices within the context of our programming. That programming is in our subconscious mind, that is why people often have to go back to their childhood to see the root of their distress because that is the time most of the programming goes on.

For my situation, which is very different yet also at the same time fundamentally similar to yours, I have chosen a number of actions:

1. Gratitude diary to make sure I am aware of all I have to be thankful for and how many people on this earth would give anything to a day of my life. To see the wonder around me, as it is easy to forget.

2. Goal setting, I used this sites goal setting guide.

3. CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, a way to reprogram your mind.

4. Yoga and exercise.

5. Avoidance of indulgence, alcohol, meaningless sex all the things we know are bad for us.

6. Meditation, I use a program to facilitate this but it is meditation nonetheless.

7. Walking the noble path as outlined in Buddhist texts and quite frankly all religions pretty much as well as modern humanistic psychology.

8. Taking responsibility for my life and actions, realizing that I am ultimately in command of my life.

I have used these things and have made great progress in a seemingly hopeless situation. The hardest part now is being afraid of change and deciding where I want to go.

What I have learned is that there were and still are so many blind spots for me, there are possibilities I would never have imagined before.

You are an intelligent and resilient person, I have confidence that you can find a path out of your conundrum. Considering the circumstance you have fared quite well. Even now you are seeking to plan for the future.
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